ATS Headlight Replacement

We’ve had a Cadillac ATS in the family for a few years now, and just like all the other Cadillac’s we’ve own, it is a lovely car. The size is just right for an urban commuter, as it lets you sip in and out of tighter spots. Ours has the 2.0T engine, which, not as powerful as the 3.6DI, has more than enough pep for daily driving. Up to now we really haven’t had to do anything beyond a simple oil change, so there’s been nothing to report. Recently though, the ATS started winking at us, so it was time for a new pair of headlights and our first foray into tearing into the ATS.

Parts for this DIY:

  • New Headlights (9012)

Tools You’ll Need:

  • A Screwdriver Set
  • Torx Head Bits or Tools

With the increasing stylishness of headlights, it’s been my experience that changing a bulb has become more and more difficult (See our Saturn Vue Post). The ATS though took this to a new level.

First up you’ll want to crack the hood and remove the radiator shroud. You won’t actually be changing the bulbs through the top, but it will definitely help you to see the pods that hold the headlights and give you a better orientation of where to place your hand. The shroud will be held in place with the typical 2-piece GM clips.

The headlight bulbs will be replaced by accessing them through the wheel well. Start by turning the wheel towards the inside for whichever side you are stating on. You won’t have to completely remove the wheel well’s splash guard, just crack it open enough to squeeze your hand through. At a minimum, you will need to remove the four Torx screws starting from the bottom up. Three of them hold the splash guard to the car while the fourth one pancakes the splash guard around an eye hole in the fender.

With the screws removed you’ll then need to pry the splash guard out. While soft, the shape of the guard will fight against you. All you need to do is pop off the top and it will create enough space to snake your hand in.

With enough space to get your hand in you can look through the top and locate the headlight pod. The Pod will have a cap on the rear that seals the unit. Pay particular attention to the orientation of the cap as it will have to be reinstalled in the exact same manner. You can now rotate the cap to loosen it and then slowly wiggle it out through the wheel well. It might seem difficult, but it can definitely be removed if you keep rotating and wiggling it until you find the clearance you need.

With the cap removed, you can now see the rear of the headlight bulb. To remove the bulb you need to rotate it until it slots free. Just as before, pay attention to the orientation as it will help you reinstall.

With the bulb loose, there is enough line to pull it through the hole in the wheel well. There you can unclip the old bulb and install the new one.

As you install the new bulb pay attention and try not to touch the actual bulb. Any contaminants or grease that find their way onto the bulb can lead to its premature failure.

With the bulb back in place simply reverse your steps and give the engine a nice cleaning while the radiator shroud is removed. The net result should be nice and bright new headlights to accentuate the gorgeous curves of the Cadillac ATS.